Mountain View Voice

News - March 26, 2010

Council approves $100,000 contract for HSR designs

by Daniel DeBolt

In an attempt to ensure that high speed rail doesn't ruin Mountain View's landscape, the City Council on Tuesday decided to pay a design firm $100,000 to create 3-D sketches of high speed rail crossings at Rengstorff Avenue and Castro Street.

Freedman, Tung & Sasaki, a San Francisco firm which designed the redevelopment of Castro Street, will also design several alternatives for the two major street crossings for high speed rail in Mountain View. The city hopes that the California High Speed Rail Authority will take note.

The goal is be able to respond to an "alternatives analysis" scheduled to be released by the Rail Authority in April. That report will analyze the possible alignment of two additional tracks for high speed trains up the Peninsula's Caltrain corridor. The tracks may run in an underground tunnel, a ditch, at grade or above ground on a platform or berm. The city will have a 60-day period to respond with its official comments.

"There are authorities trying to make decisions as quickly as possible," said Mayor Ronit Bryant on Tuesday. "It's not their job to find solutions for Mountain View. If we don't have an analysis of what works for us we will be in a position of looking stupid. To me this is critical."

Of particular concern is Castro Street, where many would like to see the trains run underground or in a ditch. If the tracks are run at-grade, Castro Street would be closed off at the tracks.

Council member John Inks opposed the move, saying that 3-D sketches were not worth $100,000, especially for an "immature" project with serious political and financial challenges.

Mountain View is already paying $100,000 to San Francisco-based firm Van Meter Williams Pollack to advise the city on technical aspects of high speed rail. City staffers say the work of the two firms will complement each other.

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